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Full text of "Funeral sermon of the Rev. John Robinson, D.D., late pastor of Poplar Tent Church, preached at Poplar Tent, February 22d, 1844"

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FEBRUARY 23d. 1S-M. 



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DAN. 12 : 3. 

" And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament ; and they that 
turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever." 

It is no common event which calls us together to-day. When a man whose 
life and labors were identified, to a large extent, with the good of society and 
the prosperity of the Church for fifty years, is called to surrender all con- 
nexion with earthly objects, and enter upon a higher work, and nobler scenes 
of enjoyment ; those who meet to venerate his memory and learn wisdom from 
his example, should be impressed with the solemnity of their circumstances. 

It is not our purpose to dwell upon the dark scenes and trying bereave- 
ments which death brings with it. We are called by our text and by the 
occasion too, to look above the grounds of sorrow, and beyond the ravages 
of death. We are called to contemplate the spirit of the good man, having 
laid down its burdens in the grave, being freed from its imperfections, and 
fully sanctified in all its powers, going to its permanent home, its highest 
work, and its bright and everlasting reward. It pertains to the Gospel to 
reveal the certain connexion between the work of the righteous below, and 
{he reward of the righteous above. Death alone spreads its narrow boun- 
dary between the family of believers on earth, and the congregation of the 
just made perfect in Heaven. ' ■ 

In the context, as generally throughout the Scriptures, the certainty of a 
future state, and of the interminable distinction between the righteous and 
the wicked, is held forth as an established truth. Our text then reveals the 
peculiar reward of Ministers of the Gospel, who prove their wisdom by gain- 
ing their own salvation and the salvation of others. They that be wise, or 
wise teachers of the truth, shall shine as the brightness of the firmament / 
and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever. 

The word righteousness has various shades of meaning in the Bible, as 
applied to different objects. It may here be taken to mean, as it does in some 
other places, holiness of character. 

We have here placed before us the great end of the Gospel Ministry. It 
is, to turn men to righteousness. It is very evident, that the state from which 
men need to be turned, is one of guilt, corruption and fearful condemnation. 
No painful labors or exhausting sufferings would be necesary to turn sinners 
to righteousness if they possessed it by nature. 

Not only the mediation of Christ, but all his provisions of mercy, ordained 
to convey its blessings to the souls of men, proclaim the utter ruin of human 
nature by sin. And sin, let it be remembered, has achieved this ruin, by se- 
parating our affections from God, the only proper object of supreme love, 
and the only source of true happiness. 

We need then a Redemption commensurate with our deep and growing 
wretchedness as sinners, claiming the exalted design, and possessing the all- 
sufficient power of restoring the heart to God, 

\ \ - rv ^ 

The terms here used, are in accordance with all the teachings of God's 
word on this subject, and denote not only the fact, that we need restoration, 
but teach the nature and extent of this restoration. 

We are restored to a safe condition, by being restored to a holy character. 
When pardon is found, purity is given. When our persons are justified by 
the righteousness of Christ, our affections are renewed by the spirit of God. 
Jehovah will bestow forgiving and enriching grace upon all who come to him 
aright ; but he will prove them to be his children by exterminating the spirit 
of rebellion and the corruptions of a wicked heart. If any man have not 
the spirit of Christ he is none of his. 

We may turn from insensibility to anxiety, and from anxiety to outward 
reformation, and from external decency to a punctual observance of all the 
forms of religion; but it will avail nothing unless we turn to righteousness: 
that elevating and abiding rectitude of heart, which brings all the desires and 
purposes and actions of the soul into conformity to God's will. 

The ministry of reconciliation has been ordained, not barely to mould the 
customs, improve the manners, and adorn the outward condition of men, but 
to turn them from sin to holiness, from the bondage of satan to the service 
of God. Its high and sacred commission can only be fulfilled by subduing 
those vices which degrade the character, destroy the peace, and ruin the 
souls of transgressors ; and restoring them to those principles of obedience 
which give happiness on earth, and prepare for happiness in Heaven. 

Too often the great end of this ministry has been overlooked, arid its rich/ 
est blessings forfeited, by regarding chiefly its influence upon the temporal 
condition of men. The power which it exerts upon the domestic, social and 
public relations of society, has led many to foster it from secular designs and 
to pervert it to the exclusive promotion of worldly interests. All such en- 
croachments upon the purpose for which Christ has. instituted -the ministry, 
not only obscure its glory, but abridge its power. 

The preaching of the Gospel does bestow rich and innumerable blessings 
upon the life that now is ; but it does so, when its power is distinctly and di- 
vinely exerted in preparing men for the life that is to come. Whenever it 
becomes the wisdom and power of God in training them for immortal life, it 
will wield a benignant energy in making them upright and useful and happy 
citizens of this world. 

But let the heralds of the Cross cease to be the advocates of God's truth 
and the messengers of his mercy in winning souls to Christ, and they will 
cease to exert any good influence, worthy of being estimated, upon the tem- 
poral interests of men. Just in proportion then as wc prize the abounding 
and fertilizing streams of good which the Gospel opens and replenishes on 
earth, should be the fervency of our prayers, that all who preach it, and all 
who hear it, may be deeply impressed with the wisdom and mercy of God 
in giving to it an end, adequate to all the wants of time and the destinies of 
of Eternity : to turn men to righteousness. 

The bare statement of what is implied in this work, shews its importance 
and the responsibility connected with it. As you love your property or 
health or honor or life, you prize the benevolent and judicious interference 
which saves either of them from bein" destroyed. But a deliverance is ah 

ways great in proportion to the value of what is saved, and the nature of the 
danger from which it is rescued. How then can you estimate that agency 
which God makes effectual in saving an immortal mind from the guilt, pollu- 
tion and coming perdition of sin, and restoring that mind to the favor and 
image and presence of Jehovah? To do this, you must have the power of 
measuring the depths and woes of Top net and of conceiving what a soul, 
under a vivid sense of its own turpitude and God's wrath, is capable of be- 
coming and enduring in a progression of eternal sinning and eternal suffering ! 
To do it, you must be able to travel on with that redeemed and sanctified 
mind in its translation from all that is to be feared or hated, to a place of light 
and love and joy, and comprehend its employments and number its praises in 
the temple of God forever and ever ! No conceivable renovation of the 
whole material system, can be compared in permanent grandeur, to the salva- 
tion of one soul. And yet to save not one, but many souls, the Ministers of 
Christ are authorized to preach and encouraged to pray. Their highest 
wisdom is proved in winning souls. Their work begins and ends, standing 
in Christ's stead, and beseeching men to be reconciled to God. Go ye into all 
the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is 
baptized shall be saved. 

That work must be important, in which the footsteps of God's own son 
may be traced. That cause ought to command attention, which was advo- 
cated by his voice. That subject is surely one of interest, which engaged 
his heart and drew forth his prayers and his tears. He was not anointed to 
remodel earthly kingdoms or sway an earthly sceptre ; but to preach the gos- 
ptt to the meek, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the cap- 
tives and the opening of the prison doors to them that were bound. 

To a certain extent the advancement of Christ's mediatorial work is com- 
mitted to his Ministers. They are commissioned to expound his doctrines, 
enforce his laws, and to'reveal, in his name, the rich provisions of Redeem- 
ing Mercy. By their instrumentality the triumphs of the Cross are extend- 
ed, the kingdom of righteousness enlarged and the glory of the Saviour pro- 
moted. They are reapers in that harvest which gathers the fruits of his 
sufferings and death. 

Any adequate conception of the magnitude of this' work must lead all 
faithful men to exclaim : Who is sufficient for these things ? No man can be 
presumed to have gained the first qualification for a vocation so high and holy, 
who is not overwhelmed, at times, with a sense of the responsibility it impo- 
ses. Were it not a fact, that all their sufficiency is of God, the purest spirits 
on earth might shrink with dismay, from even the threshold of such a work. 

When Preachers of the truth are said to turn many to righteousness, we 
cannot mistake the meaning so far as to suppose, this to be the result of their 
own wisdom or strength, unaided and unblest. Men are often said to do that 
which they are only instruments in God's hand of effecting. And if there 
be any employment in which they depend untirely upon God for assistance, 
and without which their labors will accomplish nothing, it is certainly this. 
Paul may plant and Apollos may water, but God gives the increase. 

What can frail and sinful men do, in attempting to counteract the rebellion 
of the heart, the corruptions of the world, and the powers of the devil with- 

out the influences of God's spirit ? Those who are left to themselves so far 
as to expect any fruits in this field, without an humble and constant reliance 
upon Divine Influence, will manifest only the extent of their presumption, 
and the vanity of their efforts. 

The reward of faithful Ministers is here made known : they shall shine as 
the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars forever and ever. The fir- 
mament seems here to mean, that clear and wide expanse in which the Hea- 
venly bodies are placed. When God had made the Sun, Moon and Stars we 
are told he set them in the firmament of the Heavens to give light upon the earth. 
The brightness of the firmament is then derived from the shining of those 
luminaries placed in it by God. That it is used in Scripture as an emblem 
of purity and splendor appears from Ezekie'.'s vision. And the likeness of 
the firmament upon the heads of the living creatures icas as the color of the 
terrible crystal. Pure, clear and splendid was the appearance. 

The Stars too are objects of commanding and permanent brightness. — 
Those of them belonging to our system at least, shine not by their own light ; 
but derive all their brightness from the Sun. They are not only enlightened 
by his beams, but held in their orbits by his attraction, and if the abodes of 
life and fruitfulness, as is probable, derive all their warmth from him as their 
centre. These are the objects selected by the inspired pen to show the dis- 
tinction which awaits his servants. Far beyond the reach of clouds and 
darkness and storms incident to earth, the Stars pour forth their brilliancy 
and speak the wisdom, power and goodness of God. 

Ministers now, as well as others, inhabit a land of sorrow. Darkness press- 
es upon their minds and broods all around them. Within they are harassed 
with imperfections and fears. Without they are assailed by temptations and 
dangers. Their bodies are clogs to devotion and subject to languor, disease 
and death. Wherever their affections are placed sorrow may enter, and dis- 
appointment invade. Their friends and families may suffer and must die. — 
When their eyes are opened, they must look upon fraud and deceit and op- 
pression and malice in their frightful train of evils. When their ears are not 
closed, they must hear the groans of the afflicted and the accents of abound- 
ing iniquity. In addition to the trials which they suffer in common with oth- 
er men, there are many peculiar to their work. Often when standing before 
men as the Messengers of Christ, they are compelled to say: my leanness, 
my leanness, woe unto me ! Often they fear, that while trying to lead others 
in the path to Heaven, their own footsteps ma\ not be found in it. The mes- 
sage they are bound in fidelity to God to deliver, is unwelcome in its whole 
tenour to the ungodly, and they see it rejected day after day, by their neigh- 
bors, their friends, and in many cases, even by their own families. Their 
prayers and tears and intreaties are not only liable to be unappreciated and 
misconstrued, but often they fear, they are unavailing. When they look 
abroad they see error assailing the doctrines of Christ, invading the peace 
of the Church and opening the floodgates of iniquity. 

But the day is coming when the ambassadors of Christ shall be called to 
lay down their commissions below, and go home to the kingdom of God. — 
What the new Heavens and new Earth, may fully mean, we do not know. It 
is enough for us at present to know, that they will constitute the dwelling 
place of peace and joy and love, without the mixture of evil or fear of change. 


There holy men, and holy angels, and ahove all, a Holy Saviour will reign. 
With incorruptible bodies, and enlarged faculties of mind and pure affections, 
the servants of God will take their places, where no darkness or sin or sor- 
row or enemies or death shall ever invade. To the immortal residence of 
truth and righteousness they shall go, prepared to adore and love and praise 
God as the source of joy unspeakable and full of glory. There they will 
stand among the family of the redeemed, turned from darkness to light and 
from the power of satan to God. There they will take part in the song— 
unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath 
made us Kings and Priests unto God and his Father. To him be glory and 
dominion forever and ever. 

What the minds of sanctified men are capable of knowing and becoming, 
when freed from all the imperfections incident to this life, and placed in a sit- 
uation where every thing will conspire to enlarge and adorn their powers, is 
not for us now to conceive. In this state of existence reason and science 
cannot penetrate the veil which covers the secrets of nature, to say nothing 
of the spiritual kingdom of Jehovah. Hereafter it is probable God will 
withhold the knowledge of nothing which adoring spirits may know with 
profit. To study his perfections as displayed in his works will then be the 
ennobling and transporting employment of just men made perfect. 

The departments of Creation, the dispensations of Providence, and the 
wonders of Redemption may then be unfolded in their harmonious accom- 
plishment of the highest end, by the best means. And the progressive rev- 
elations of the majesty and glory of God in creating and upholding and go- 
verning all things, will bind the worshippers around his throne in growing 
ties of admiration, confidence and love. The highest attainments and bright- 
est excellencies of men and angels will there be felt and acknowledged as 
the emanations of his supreme perfection, who fills Heaven as the light and 
glory of his creatures* 

As the Stars shine by reflecting the light of the Sun, and keep their places 
by yielding to the force of his attraction, so will holy beings in Heaven re- 
flect forever the light and love of the Sun of Righteousness, and hold their 
stations and pay their homage to him as the great centre of Spiritual Life. 

There too, the walls of partition between good men being removed, it is 
probable that Patriarchs and Prophets and Ministers and Saints from every 
age and every country, will concentrate their knowledge and experience of 
God's dealings with his Church, in every generation, for the improvement 
and praise of the General Assembly. There all will be Brethren not in 
name, but in truth. No apostacy will there excite alarm. No alienation 
will pierce the bosom of friends. There too Ministers will meet all who have 
been turned to righteousness through their instrumentality. Not struggling 
with corruptions and harrassed with enemies or mourning for light and 
strength — but meet them, having ivashed their robes and made them white in 
the blood of the Lamb. And they shall come to Zion with songs and everlast- 
ing joy upon their heads : they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and 
sighing shall fee away. 

What a revenue of glory will that temple of righteousness unfold to the 
Lord Jesus Christ! The brightest splendors of the New Jerusalem will 

gather around the Cross, and its highest anthems rise to the Lamb thai was 
slain. No heart and no harp but will be in unison with that song, and the 
Awelsand tho'Elders around the throne will say, Amen ! 

We are assembled to-day to render funeral honor to a venerable servant 
of Christ, who devoted his life to such a work, and has gone, we believe, to 
such a reward. Whilst we mourn his loss to ourselves, to the Church of 
God, and to society at large, we should be thankful that he was spared so 
long and lived so well. 

Dr. John Robinson was born within the bounds of Sugar Creek Church, 
Mecklenburg county, N. C, on the 8th of January, 1768. His parents were 
very respectable and pious members of that Church, and left many memo- 
rials of their faith and fidelity in God's service. By them he was trained up 
in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and often spoke id after life, of 
their faithful concern for his salvation. 

He received part of his Classical Education in the town of Charlotte, in an 
Academy taught by Dr. Henderson, in the old College building, and part 
near to this place in an Academy taught by Mr. Archibald. His College 
course of studies was pursued and completed at Winnsborough, S. C. 

At what age or under what circumstances he became pious we are not able 
to state. The more important fact may be stated that his conversion was 
accompanied by a good hope of salvation through Christ, and followed by a 
full and unshaken determination to devote his life to the ministry of the Gospel. 

He studied Theology under the care of the Orange Presbytery, which 
then embraced within its bounds, the whole State of North Carolina. He 
was licensed to preach on the 4th day of April, 1793. 

On the 9th of April, 1795, he was married to Miss Mary C. Baldwin, in 
whom he found an amiable, intelligent, pious, and useful partner of his joys 
and sorrows — esteemed and beloved by all who knew her. 

At the time he was licensed to preach he was directed by the Presbytery 
to visit Duplin county in this State. That was his first field of labor in the 
Ministry. He was the instrument of much good to the Churches he organ- 
ized or built up in that county, and was loth to leave them ; but the health 
of his family rendered it necessary. He continued there about seven years. 

To the town of Fayetteville he was next called in the Providence of God. 
There he taught for several years a large and flourishing Academy, and from 
among his pupils, our State has found some of its brightest ornaments. But 
his usefulness was most signal in the Ministry of the Gospel. He was the 
Father of the Presbyterian Church in that place. He not only organized it, 
but received into its bosom, many who have been its pillars since. His labors 
there, embracing two periods, were continued about five years. His firm- 
ness of purpose, dignity of deportment, and courtesy of manners enabled 
bim to exert an influence in such a community in favor of religion and pub- 
lic order and the good of society, which few men could successfully have 
^attempted. The fruits of his labors are yet visible there, and acknowledged, 
with gratitude, by many witnesses. We have never seen any man move 

through society, receiving more striking tokpns of veneration and affection, 
than we have witnessed, shown to Dr. Robinson in that town.* 

His longest and perhaps most useful Pastoral relation was with this Church 
(Poplar Tent.) For thirty-six years he was your honored and beloved Min- 
ister : making the whole period of his Pastoral office about forty-eight years. 
With what ability, zeal and fervent devotion he labored here, many present 
have long been the witnesses, and many who have gone before you, will long 
remember. Few connexions of the kind so long exist, with so many marks 
of harmony, and evidences of mutual confidence and attachment. His Pas- 
toral care was not surrendered until the infirmities of age demanded it ; and 
then it wa3 terminated with all those feelings of good will and unabated at- 
tachment, which should ever characterize such an event. 

Those who estimate a Minister's usefulness by his great efforts or rare 
sacrifices on peculiar occasions will be liable to be much mistaken. It is by 
keeping the even tenor of his way, amid the retired and ordinary walks of 
life, submitting his own will to God's work, and seeking to do good, under all 
circumstances, and to all men, that he is to make full proof of the design and 
greatness of his commission. How many fruits may flow from a life thus 
consecrated to the good of others for the sake of his master, and not for the 
applause of men, the bar of Judgment will reveal. 

Dr. Robinson was a man of consistent and elevated piety. On all proper 
occasions his conversation and actions manifested his deep conviction, that 
no order of talents, no amount of learning or variety of gifts can qualify a 
man to preach, without true religion. The urgency and power with which 
he inculcated upon others to examine themselves, not by opinions or forms, 
but by their fruits, indicated not only his honest sentiments, but the feelings 
of heart on this subject. We are permitted to rise above impulses and ob- 
servances, in looking for the standard of his piety. We are referred to the 
long continued and well-defined actions of his life, regulated by one rule, and 
directed to one end. The grace that teaches a man to deny himself, to live 
for God, to watch for souls, and to adorn all the relations of life by a con- 
scientious discharge of Christian duty, this is the grace of God that bring- 
eth Salvation. 

In his ministrations from the pulpit, one characteristic could not be over- 
looked by those who heard him : a clear and faithful exhibition of the doc- 
trines essential to salvation. These constituted his delightful theme. Upon 
these his mind kindled with ardent emotion, and often with subduing tender- 
ness. Upon the character, and love, and sufferings, and death of the Son of 
God, what penetrating words have you heard from his mouth? Upon Com- 
munion Seasons his animation and devotional feelings were evident to all who 
heard him. The Revivals of Religion with which the Churches were bless- 
ed at different periods of his ministry always found him among the front 
ranks, in attempting to promote the work of the Lord. The force of public 
sentiment sometimes urges men to countenance what they may give no very 
decided proofs of loving. How different it was with him? How easily did 
he seem to shake off the fetters of ease and enter with ardour into all the 
exercises of such merciful visitations to the Church ; rejoicing with those 
that rejoiced and weeping with those that wept ! 

* See note A in appendix. 

These evidences of a devotional spirit did not barely appear at favoured 
seasons, and then vanish before the rugged realities of life. Amid the sorest 
and most trying bereavements, his faith sustained him-. In his conflicts with 
the world it armed him with energy. On the approach of death it consoled 
and cheer-ed his submissive mind. 

Benevolence was a lovely feature of his character. He looked upon the 
things of others, with anxiety for their happiness. His travels, and labors, 
arid sacrifices for the public good, made up no incousiderable part of his life. 
Where distress could be alleviated, he loved to go. When affliction called 
for aid and sympathy, he delighted in giving them. In the chambers of dis- 
ease and around the beds of the dying, his warm and generous sensibility 
flowed with a deep current, and impressed the words of instruction and con- 
solation. Into all the benevolent enterprises of the Church for the spread 
of the Gospel, he entered with cheerfulness and animation. Every plan 
which promised the promotion of good or the mitigation of evil, found in him 
an eloquent advocate and a liberal contributor. He was so free from a self- 
ish or covetous spirit, that the accumulation of property seemed not to enter 
his thoughts, farther than the decent support and comfort of those dependent 
on him rendered necessary. 

From that low and grovelling disposition which pines at the elevation or 
excellence of others, he was so far exempt, as to scorn the arts of detraction 
and hold in sacred esteem the reputation and prosperity of good men. 

His profound reverence for God was manifest, when contemplating his 
works and attending upon the means of grace. It is to be regretted, that 
too often good men, in their attendance upon sacred things show, if not lev- 
ity of manner, at least a want of that awe which the character and presence 
of God should awaken in the minds of all sinful creatures. When Dr. Ro- 
binson read the Scriptures, approached a throne of grace, stood in the pulpit 
or administered the ordinances of the Church, his solemnity was very strik- 
ing and seemed to accord with the sentiment so often repeated by him : Who 
would not fear thee O King of Nations ; for to thee doth it appertain ! 

His humility added a charm to his other virtues. He showed no reluc- 
tance in acknowledging his unworthiness. He was willing, at all times, to 
ascribe every good in himself and his condition, to the rich and sovereign 
grace of God. Rising above the low and numberless forms by which pride 
seeks for superiority, he appeared satisfied to fill his sphere of duty, and copy 
the example of bis master. And how little indeed, would the airs of supe- 
riority, the forms of ostentation, and the reachings of selfish ambition appear, 
if held up in contrast with his calm, dignified, and noble deportment? 

His firmness of purpose and intrepidity of character were acknowledged 
by all who knew him. Perhaps few men have been found, gifted in a high- 
er degree with those endowments which constitute bravery. We allude to 
this, not to speak of it as a virtue in the abstract. Without the influence of 
higher principles, we are aware, that it has driven the scourge of misery 
through the earth. But we refer to it, to admire how the stamp of boldness 
impressed by nature upon his character, was moulded by grace, and made to 
harmonize with the forbearance, meekness and tenderness inculcated by the 
Gospel. With a courage that would not quail before any aspect or amount 


of clanger, was blended a disposition to regard the just rights of others, to 
sympathize with their sufferings and to feel, with the utmost tenderness, those 
endearing ties which cement and adorn the nearest relations of life.* 

Dr. Robinson's personal appearance and manners were of the most enga- 
ging and polished kind. For that true politeness which flows from esteem 
and good will to others, which is marked by a ready perception of what the 
proprieties of life demand, and a decorous observance of all the usages of 
good society, he was distinguished in a high degree. In any crowd the pen- 
etrating eye would select him as a gentleman of the first order. In the pul- 
pit his form and countenance and bearing gave commanding force to his sen- 
timents. Often have his dignity and attraction of manner been felt as cords 
drawing men towards the truth, which he wished them to believe and obey. 
But few fairer specimens of a Christian Gentleman have been witnessed, 
than his life presented. 

His punctuality was proverbial. Wherever you had good reason to expect 
him, you were sure to find him unless prevented by the Providence of God. 
In fulfilling his contracts, his appointments for preaching, and in attending 
the Judicatories of the Church, his exemplary punctuality was uniformly 
shown. Some years since the Stated Clerk of the Synod of North Carolina, 
drew up a statement of the attendance of its members, and if we are not mis- 
taken, Dr. Robinson was the only member who had never been absent. — • 
During half a century, we think, he never failed to be present at all the ses- 
sions of the Synod to which he belonged, until the infirmities of old age ren- 
dered it impracticable for him to attend. 

He was a good Classical Scholar and retained to the close of life, a distinct 
remembrance of the studies of his youth, that was very remarkable. For 
many years he taught near to this place, and trained up for the different Pro- 
fessions a considerable number of highly respectable and useful men. 

He was a warm and indefatigable friend of true learning. When an effort 
was made in 1820, to establish a College in the Western part of North Car- 
olina, he was among its most active friends. When the more recent and suc- 
cessful attempt was made to build Davidson College, his zeal and efforts and 
sacrifices in its behalf were known to all, and continued to the close of his 
life. He was the first President of the Board of Trustees, and held that 
office as long as his declining health would permit. 

As a Preacher he loved and held forth, the essential doctrines and great 
duties of our holy Religion. Having no disposition to build theories or to 
weave speculations, he proclaimed the truth as he found it in the Bible, in its 
penetrating force and majestic simplicity. Believing that sinners are con- 
verted and Christians sanctified by the truth, he declared it fearlessly and 
with affectionate solemnity. His prayers and tears and entreaties proved his 
humble reliance upon the Spirit of God to make it effectual to salvation. — 
He was a modest and judicious expounder of the Scriptures. He loved to 
dwell upon the plain, practical truth of God's word. His delivery was inter- 
esting, earnest and at times, very eloquent. His style bore all the traits of 
precision and perspicuity. There was no ambiguity about him. No hearer 

*See Note B. in Appendix. 


was left to inquire what he meant. His voice was clear, strong and melo- 
dious ; and he had au admirable talent of modulating if, from the highest to 
the lowest key. With these graces of delivery, in connexion with his deep 
convictions of truth, his elevated sentiments, and warm emotions of heart, 
we are not surprised that he ranked among the best orators of his day. 

The family circle was a dear one to his hosom, and he fulfilled its various 
and important duties, in the most exemplary and lovely manner. As a Hus- 
hand, Parent and Master, his faithfulness, kindness and forbearance rendered 
his tabernacle the dwelling-place of peace and love. No one could know 
him at home, the best scene to test what men are in reality, without admi- 
ral ion for the excellencies of his character. 

In 1836, the excellent companion of his life, was removed from him by 
death. How deeply he felt that sore bereavement, all his friends had rea- 
son to know ; and could not overlook the humble and edifying submission 
with which he bore the trial. 

With a pure and disinterested patriotism, he loved his country and stood rea- 
dy to make any sacrifices or put forth any efforts demanded for its prosperity. 

When the Temperance Reformation commenced in our country, he was 
among the first to take a firm stand in its favor, and persevered to the close 
of life, among its ablest advocates and brightest ornaments. 

When his declining health called him to retire from his public labors, his 
serenity and cheerfulness and patience remained unimpaired, and added lus- 
tre to the evening of his days. When the summons of death met him, with 
composure and sustaining confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ, he resigned 
his soul to God, and departed in peace, December 15th, 1843. Mark the 
perfect man and behold the upright ; for the end of that man is peace. 

Thus has fallen a great and good man in Zion — " J\ut lout but gone before. 1 '' 

The memorials of his usefulness will long be visible below. Above they 
will be imperishable. It is probable that since you laid his body in the tomb, 
his mind has gained much more knowledge of God, and Christ, the wonders 
of Redemption, and the blessedness of the righteous, than in all his life before. 
And thus its attainments and enjoyments may enlarge and brighten forever 
and ever. We should praise God for what he was, and is now. 

In one respect, my friends, you are done with his ministry. You will no 
more hear his voice preaching the words of Salvation. You will no more 
witness his fervent prayers and entreaties that you may love God and pre- 
pare for Heaven. In another respect you are not done with his ministry. — 
You are going to meet it, in the light which will shine upon your trial. As 
he has answered to God for his preaching, you must give an account for the 
manner in which you have heard the truth. You may now forget his in- 
structions, and cover up the seed which he has sown. But hereafter you 
must meet the truth, and answer to God for its improvement. And if you 
fail of Salvation, what warnings and expostulations, will rise up as the dark 
mementoes of aggravated ruin ! If you perish in this Christian land, and 
from this favored congregation,. it will not be, without efforts made to prevent 


it which it will be awful to meet in the presence of God, and to have forced 
upon your remembrance through Eternity. Let me entreat you to ponder 
well, before it be too late, the mercy of God in securing to you the faithful- 
ness of a ministry that has closed, and another that has commenced, for the 
good of your souls. 

What a day of overwhelming solemnity will that be, when Ministers of 
the Gospel, and their hearers, shall meet each other before the bar of God! 
With what overflowing joy will those turned to righteousness, take their places 
with the Servants of Christ as Stars in their crowns of rejoicing ! And with 
what wailings and unutterable consternation, will those who have rejected the 
counsel of God to their destruction, turn away from Christ's Ministers and 
from Christ's Kingdom, to the dark world of perdition ! 

And that day is coming. Now is the time to prepare for it. And the 
only tcay to prepare for it, is to believe and obey from the heart that truth 
which we honor God's Messengers for preaching. We need expect no other 
plan of Salvation than the Gospel reveals. We should rely upon no kind of 
preachincr to give life, but that which leads to repentance for sin, faith in 
Jesus Christ and conformity to the will of God. And even this, will avail 
nothing, without the concern and concurrence of those who hear it. Those 
who make their calling and election sure, are required to give all diligence, 
when God works in them to will and to do of his good pleasure. It is not the 
forgetful hearers, but the doers of the work, who are blessed in their deeds. 

It is possible to draw delusion to ourselves from the fact, that we are able 
to stand the preaching, which is in the demonstration of the Spirit and of 
power. Other causes than a love of truth may lead many to the sanctuary 
of God, and far different fruits from those of faith, may flow from attendance 
upon the most approved and searching ministry. Micah has not been the 
only man in this deceiving world, who has expected good from relation to the 
Priest, more than from the blessing of God in applying his word to the heart. ■ 

If any thin°- should awaken concern, it is the possibility of acquiring only 
blindness of mind, and obduracy of heart, under the very means which God 
throws around us, to secure our Salvation. This will be the sure result it 
we hear without proper improvement. His word will not return unto him 
void ; but will prove a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death. And 
amid' the coming retributions of Eternity, whose guilt will be without cloak,; 
and whose perdition without palliation, but theirs, who will stand charged 
with having trodden underfoot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the 
covenant, wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and done despite unto 
the Spirit of grace. ! Take heed therefore how ye hear. We ought to give 
the more, earnest heed to the things which we have heard lest at any time we 
should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast anS 
every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward ; 
how shall we escape if we neglect so great Salvation ? 



As evidence that the high veneration felt for Dr. Robinson by the inhabi- 
tants of Fayettcville, has not subsided through the changes of more than 
thirty years, the following proceedings of a public meeting, held in the Town 
House on the 23d of December, 1843, may be given : 

Whereas, it is announced in some of the public prints, that it has pleased 
the all-wise disposer of ail events, to call away from this sinful and suffer- 
ing world, our venerable friend the Rev. John Robinson, D. D., the present, 
meeting, consisting of persons to whom he has been long endeared, by ties of 
a most interesting character, desire, with the utmost sincerity, to give expres- 
sion to the sentiments which they entertain in the following resolutions, viz: 

1. Resolved, That, in our estimation, the death of such a man as the late 
Rev. John Robinson, D. D., is an event justly to be deplored, as a serious 
loss to a community, who have for many years, been permitted to enjoy the 
rich benefits of his wholesome instruction and godly and edifying example. 

2. Resolved, That his public services, in this place many years ago as a 
Minister of the Gospel and an instructor of the rising generation, shall long 
be remembered, with emotions of gratitude and affection. 

3. Resolved, That David Anderson, Dr. R. Robinson, J. W. Wright, C. 
P. Mallett and E. L. Winslow be a committee to devise suitable means for 
the erection of such memorial of his character and labors as may perpetuate 
the memory of his worth, and of his labors for the good of immortal souls. 
fr 4. Resolved, That these resolutions be published and a copy of them for- 
warded to the family of the deceased. 

John McRae, Secretary. 



Many anecdotes might be given, illustrating Dr. Robinson's personal cour- 
age and some remarkable effects of his intrepidity of character. The fol- 
lowing incident may not be inappropriate. When he lived in Duplin county, 
he was once travelling alone, to attend a meeting of Presbytery. Passing 
through a certain village, he had occasion to stop' for accommodations. Se- 
lecting what appeared to him the most decent looking tavern, he asked for 
dinner, which was promised. He had not remained long in the sitting room, 
until a crowd around the bar of the house commenced using very profane 
language. Dr. Robinson politely remarked, that such language was very 
painful to him, and wrong in itself, and that he hoped they would desist from 
it. After a temporary pause, the drinking and profanity, again commenced 
with more insulting indecency than before. Dr. Robinson perceiving that 
the landlord was not only among the band, but a leader in the outrage, ad- 
dressed himself to him, stating that he had called at his house expecting to 
find the civility which a place for the accommodation of others ought always 
to insure, and that he hoped his character as a landlord and the honor of his 
house would afford a shield from insult to a stranger. The landlord instead 
of appreciating a manly appeal to his character for good conduct, in a vio- 
lent rage and with increasing profanity, rushed towards Dr. Robinson, swear- 
ing that his house was his own, and his tongue was kis own, and that he would 
do as he pleased, and drew his fist as he advanced. Upon this Dr. R. rose 
up with a stern and commanding aspect and remarked : Your house may be 
your oicn, and your tongue is your own ; but take care how you use your Jid. 
The faultering landlord had not surveyed before, the majesty of his form or met 
the indignant flash of his eye. Instead of keeping up his attitude of attack, 
he cowered down in dismay, and commenced begging pardon for the insult. 
The crowd around the bar slunk away from the house, leaving the poor 
landlord, to the humiliating confessions of his meanness, in offering insult to 
a gentleman, and continued intreaties that Dr. R. would not make it public 
to the disgrace of his tavern. 



During the period of Dr. Robinson's ministry in Duplin county, he was 
once invited very kindly by a gentleman who had been educated in Scotland, 
to go home with him. He did so, and was much gratified, during the even- 
ing, by the fluent and appropriate conversation of the gentleman, on the Doc- 
trines and Discipline of the Church, the Confession of Faith, Catechism, So- 
lemn League Covenant, &c. &c. At supper the gentleman asked Dr. R. to 
ask a blessing and return thanks, and at the proper time, had his family as- 
sembled for prayers. The next morning after prayers were over, and the 
family had assembled around the breakfast table, Dr. R. concluding that a 
man who seemed to know so much about the doctrines and duties of the 
Church, had certainly some forms of religion, politely referred to him to ask 
a blessing. The gentleman commenced and went on, probably half through 
an ordinary invocation of God's blessing— there he halted, and turniag to 
Dr. R. with an imploring countenance, said, Will you please to finish, Sir ? 
This circumstance is not mentioned solely because it is ludicrous, but to show 
how small a matter may be overruled to awaken serious and salutary reflection. 
After retiring from the table, he came to Dr. R. and with tears he said, You 
now see what I have come to— I was bom of piovs parents, tavght religion in 
my youth, and observed its forms in my native country. But here, Sir, I have 
neglected its duties ; and now cannot even ask God to bless the food of my own 
table. So deep was the impression produced on his mind, by this trivial inci- 
dent, that his convictions of sin, cherished by the means of grace, continued 
and increased, until he professed a hope of conversion, and was received into 
the Church ; and as far as known lived consistently with its obligations. 



The following record was made by the Presbytery of Concord in noticing 1 
the death of Dr. Robinson : 

The Presbytery of Concord desire to record with unfeigned sorrow, the 
death of their father and fellow-laborer in the Gospel, the Rev. John Robin- 
son, D. D., who fell asleep in Christ, on the 15th of December, 1843. In his 
removal from this world, the Presbytery of Concord and the Church of Christ 
have sustained no common loss. In Dr. Robinson were united those graces 
and traits of character, which distinguish the christian gentleman and the 
faithful Ambassador of Christ. Firm to his purpose, courtly in his manners, 
punctual to all ecclesiastical meetings, conscientious in the discharge of every 
duty as a citizen and as a Christian Minister, ardent in taking hold of and sus- 
taining to the end, the cause of God and man — he proved himself a most val- 
uable member of our Presbytery and a devoted friend to our young literary 
institution, Davidson College, for which he continued to feel, even to the end 
of life, an unabated solicitude. 

While we bow in humble submission to the hand of God, under this painful 
bereavement, we will ever cherish the most grateful recollection, of the last of 
the Fathers of the Presbytery of Concord. 

A true extract from the records of Presbytery.